Despite the young age of the work in question, the restoration was particularly compelling because inside the wooden support of the central compartment, depicting St. Anthony with the Child, the woodworms were alive and active.
At the foot of this painting, on the marble altar, there were, in fact, numerous piles of wooden scraps caused by gnawing. The whole painted surface was thickly sprinkled with holes made by the woodworm emerging from the cocoon and the many tunnels dug internally by the insects had given rise to sinkings with multiple deformations and breaks visible in correspondence with the hand of S. Antonio. Made of a triple layer of poor quality plywood glued to a frame stiffened by four horizontal crosspieces, the supports were severely eroded in the inner part and therefore the painted "skin", especially in the central board, was collapsing. After the disinfection and covering of the surface, the paintings were placed upside down on a suction table until they were dried, to bring back the edges of the broken off inwards into the correct position. Then the frame was gouged and the two outer sheets of the plywood delaminated. The operation, quite delicate, required a long time and extreme attention. After the tunnels, dug by the insects, were plastered and the flatness was restored, the board was supported with a sheet of marine plywood after interposing an applied small canvas to ensure the reversibility of the duplication. The reinforcement frame was then rebuilt following the shape of the frames on the other two compartments, to restore, even on the back, communion to the work. The intervention is therefore continued as usual, with the cleaning, the stucco work and reintegration of the numerous holes produced by the emerging from the cocoon of the woodworms.
Manual skills, technology and science in an artisan restoration workshop